The first thing you need to know about Liam Neeson’s new movie, “Non-Stop” is that it is not “Speed” in the sky. It is a well-executed action thriller that had one preview audience cheering at its conclusion.
The best action movies are usually the most simple. In the case of “Speed,” it was a bus that couldn’t go below 55 miles per hour or else it would explode. In “Non-stop,” it’s the killing of a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million dollars is wired to an anonymous bank account.
Time as a plot device is nothing new and director Jaume Collet-Serra uses it wisely. He is able to keep the action and tension heightened without sacrificing character development.
Beleaguered air marshall Bill Marks (Neeson) boards a non-stop flight to London and must figure out who is killing off passengers while evidence pointing to Marks as the suspect mounts.
A noticeable difference in how the plot of an action movie develops is something I like to call the “24 effect” as in the show “24,” which always had a character who turned out to be working for the wrong side.
“Non-stop” plays on the paranoia and suspicion that audiences have developed to keep them guessing. There was never any doubt that Keanu Reeves character in “Speed” was the good guy, but in “Non-Stop” screenwriters John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle don’t make it that obvious.
Marks is a drunk and a loose cannon who seems to be at the end of his rope. Neeson’s face, etched with the weariness of what seems like a million sleepless nights, is able to convey the pain and frustration of his character with just a look in the mirror.
“Non-Stop” also has a reliable supporting cast including Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery from “Downton Abbey,” Scoot McNairy (“Argo), Corey Stoll (“Midnight in Paris”) and Oscar-nominee Lupita Nyong’o.
“Non-Stop” is a smart, entertaining movie with great action sequences that breathes some fresh energy into the genre.